Plants of
South Australia
Ptilotus fusiformis
Amaranthaceae
Pom Pom Fox-tail
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Etymology

Ptilotus from the Greek 'ptilotos' meaning feathered or winged; referring to the hairy flowers. Fusiformis from the Latin 'fusus' meaning spindle-shaped (swollen at the middle and tapering at the ends).

Distribution and status

Known only by a single collection along the Strzeleck Creek in South Australia, well south of its normal distribution where it is growing on sand, clay or stony soils. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. Native. Very rare in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium region: Lake Eyre
NRM region: South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Perennial herb or annuals to 60 cm tall, more or less erect with the vegetative parts usually glabrous. Leaves linear to 60 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, acute. Flowers a dense, short spikes on a long slender peduncle, green or yellow, ovoid or cylindrical to 50 mm long. Flowering possibly all year round depending on rain events. Seeds are reniform to 2 mm long. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds possibly throughout the year depending on rain events. Be very careful when collecting this species as the fruits contain fine hairs that may cause an allergic reaction for some people. Collect the fruit heads when dried to a pale straw colour. Each fruit should come off the head easily when fingers are rubbed up the stem. Collect more fruits than required as not all fruits will have a viable seed. Be very careful when cleaning this species as the fruits contain fine hairs that may cause an allergic reaction for some people. To clean, rub the fruit heads gently to dislodge the seed at the base of each fruit. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. Seed viability is usually high but seed availability tend to be low. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.